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UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering

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Prof Eli Keshavarz-Moore

Professor of Bioprocess Science & Enterprise

Dept of Biochemical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Jan 1988

Research summary

The central theme of Eli’s research has been to investigate the interaction between cell engineering and fermentation and downstream processing. The early focus was on the impact of recombinant technology on the processing of macromolecules; in particular proteins with specific attention to the way fermentation strategy may control the location of the protein, and its titre in order to adapt the best harvesting strategy and enable the provision of generic process options for downstream separation. The range of organisms studied included both microbial and fungal systems. This extended into processing of recombinant macromolecules specifically antibodies to transgenic plants as an alternative route to production. The largest challenge is in the early stages where the material for processing is to be prepared and then separated. The work has complemented the mainstream microbial and animal cell studies. Her research has been the basis for further study on creating a framework for rapid choice of a whole bioprocess prior to detailed design. As a one of the 5 principal investigators of IMRC for bioprocessing (2007-2012), she brought a new theme based on the specific, knowledge-based design of cells and their propagation in bioreactors in response to the needs and demands of downstream/ purification stages. This is a novel approach to the whole process design. Hitherto, downstream operations have had to deal with every increasing higher concentrations of biomass and titres of products, and the removal of challenging contaminants arising from early stage processing, whilst operating within the constraints set by regulatory authorities. The new approach has aimed at easing this burden. In further research grants, the challenge of harnessing complex, large plasmids and phages which are potential candidates for a new generation of biopharmaceuticals such as multivalent vaccines and debilitating conditions such as muscular dystrophy has been considered. Their characteristics such as size are setting new barriers both at the synthesis and separation stages due to the likelihood of very low titres, a high level of genomic contamination and high potential degradation. Currently, her collaboration with leading centres in the UK and Europe (Warwick, Kent, Oulu, Zurich) is helping scientists from these centres to re-engineer host cell organisms so they can be used to enhance or create alternative routes for bioprocess sequences.

Teaching summary

Eli started her teaching career in UCL working in bioprocessing and launched several course programmes at undergraduate, postgraduate and continuing education levels. She initiated innovative methods of teaching in biochemical engineering including integrated, hands-on, pilot-scale bioprocess operations for up to 50 students at a time. She contributes to teaching fermentation studies which are a core biochemical engineering course at both undergraduate and masters levels. In parallel with this, she has been active in entrepreneurial training at UCL and was a founding member of the organising committee of the national Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES). This scheme is now fully endorsed by both universities and by research councils and has been used as a successful example of promoting enterprise in bioscience and engineering amongst young researchers. Since 2000, her academic teaching has focussed on technical management and entrepreneurial education. The Centre for Scientific Enterprise Initiative led to a joint programme between UCL and LBS in 2000. She has been Programme Leader in Enterprise Training in Bioprocessing and Life Sciences creating a complete range of innovative course programmes across undergraduate and postgraduate taught/research curricula. The most recent addition has been the successful launch of an executive level programme (Vision) in 2010 for senior leaders in the biological sciences industries (www.vision-ucl.co.uk). This includes a main core course together with several business and technology briefings throughout the year, bringing together world experts and opinion makers under UCL roof for teaching, learning and discussion.

Education

University College London
PhD, Biochemical Engineering | 1988
University of Melbourne
MEng, Biochemical Engineering | 1985
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
DIC, Biochemical Engineering | 1977
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
MSc (Hons), Management studies | 1977
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
BEng hons, Chemical Engineering | 1976
Publications